Dr. Azziz nominated for president at University of Florida, declares 'he is here to stay'

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- GHSU President Dr. Ricardo Azziz is one of 36 professionals who have been nominated to become the next president at the University of Florida.

"Dr. Azziz is a national figure, and as such he will be, as others are nominated, for positions throughout the nation," said "New U" Provost Gretchen Caughman.

Caughman says Dr. Azziz spoke directly to the topic at this week's briefing.

"He indicated in no uncertain terms to us that he is here and he is here to stay," Caughman said. "He did not seek this nomination, and he did not pursue it."

"Please keep in mind that anyone can nominate individuals for president. The fact that they are on the list does not mean they are interested in the position," said Janine Sikes, director of Public Affairs at the university. "They should not be referred to as candidates."

It comes as students stage protests against the new name for the soon-to-be-consolidated Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities.

"Why in the world would anyone from Florida read all the news that has come up since Dr. Azziz has been president and think, 'Oh yeah we want him here??'" questioned viewers on Facebook. "They can have him!!

"He is seen as a transformational leader," Caughman said. "He is getting attention in other places."

Caughman says Azziz is focused on building a major university here in Augusta. A decision will be made early on regarding the return to full NCAA Division I competition.

"That's part of what they want to tick off their list when they are looking at colleges," said Caughman about prospective students. "They want the Division I experience."

The search committee is expected to meet on Thursday. It could be two months before they have a list of candidates. Azziz would also have to apply for the position.

David Brond, senior vice president of communications and marketing at GHSU, released the following statement:
"In keeping with the state of Florida’s Open Government and Public Records laws, or Sunshine Laws, the University of Florida released the name of every candidate nominated for the position of President of the university. While Dr. Azziz is honored by the nomination, he expressed no prior interest in the position and does not intend to pursue the opportunity. Now, in the midst of the consolidation of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University, he is fully committed to ensuring that the union between the two schools is a success."

Another notable name on the list is University of South Carolina Head Football Coach Steve Spurrier.

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